The House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a motion seeking the removal of the tainted fuel subsidy regime by the incoming Gen. Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The motion entitled: “The recurring crisis of fuel subsidy”, was sponsored by Hon. Sunday Karimi (Kogi/PDP) .
Karimi called for a “permanent solution” to the lingering nationwide fuel scarcities while urging the Buhari administration to “muster the necessary political will” to end the fuel subsidy regime.
“As we speak, PMS sells in most places at the rate of 120 and 150 naira depending on where it is available which is against the official pump price of N87.” Karimi stated while leading debates.
Speaking in support of the fuel subsidy regime removal, Deputy House Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor said the regime has become a drain on the country’s economy. He urged that government redirect fuel subsidy votes to other priority areas.
Ogor (Delta/PDP): “How long will we continue to spend money we dont have. How long will we allow oil marketers hold us to ransome. When will our refineries work? The money that we spend on fuel subsidy can be channeled to other crucial areas.”
Speaking in opposition to motion, Hon. Osai Nicolas Osai (Delta/PDP) said the motion’s timing was wrong and belated as the outstanding subsidy payment causing the fuel scarcities had been dealt with on Monday at a meeting between the country’s finance minister and oil marketers.
“I disagree with this motion, because it is coming very late and standing on a very weak premise. The issue involved has to do with subsidy payment.
“The minister of Finance and marketers were in a meeting which ended yesterday (Monday) and that matter has been resolved. So the House would be wasting resources and energy in trying to dabble into this matter.” Osai said.
When the motion was put to a voice vote by the presiding Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, federal lawmakers rejected the motion.
A total of N145 billion subsidy component were embedded in the 2015 Budget which the House passed on Thursday, April 23, 2015. These were made up of N100 billion for subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol, and N45billion for kerosene .
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, but imports refined petrol. Years of mismanagement and corruption mean Nigeria does not have the capacity to refine oil into petrol and other fuels.
Several previous governments have tried to remove the subsidy but have backed down in the face of widespread public protests and reduced it instead. Nationwide protests brokeout in 2012 when President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration attempted to remove fuel subsidy.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has long urged Nigeria’s government to remove the subsidy, which costs a reported $8billion a year.
In 2012, the House of Representatives debated a report which revealed that $6 billion has been defrauded from the fuel subsidy fund in two years.
The 205-page parliamentary report uncovered a long list of alleged wrongdoings involving oil retailers and the NNPC. According to the report, a total of 15 fuel importers collected more than $300 million two years ago without importing any fuel, while more than 100 oil marketers collected the same amount of money on several occasions.